I John 2:1-11
We have been talking about the fact that loving God means keeping his commandments. We are told by God that his commandments are not grievous. These truths are some of the most basic truths of the Christian life. Keeping God’s commandments brings joy to those who love God. One of these commandments is that we are to love our brethren. Now the truth is that this is not always easy (and it is also true that it is not always easy for our brethren to love us!), but God has commanded us to do so.
1. My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
Much of what is written in the Bible is written to keep us from sin. This is certainly true of the book of First John. Sin is the enemy of godliness and God commands his children to abstain from it in all of its forms. God also knows that we are prone to sin:
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about
with so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us,
and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,”
We have an “advocate” with God the Father whenever we do sin. When we confess our sin and repent of it, it is as if Jesus Christ goes to the Father and tells him, “your child has sinned, but you know that I have paid for his sin on the cross and on the basis of that payment I am advocating for his forgiveness.”
2. And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
Jesus Christ is the propitiation (atonement) for the sin of the world.
3. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
4. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
If we keep God’s commandments, then we know him. If we don’t keep his commandments and we claim to know him, we are liars. These are plain words.
5. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
If we keep God’s word, then we really do love God and we can be confident that we are in him.
6. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
If you are going to claim that you are a Christian, then you ought to walk like he walked. Otherwise you are bringing reproach upon his name. This does not mean that any of us will walk perfectly (which is why we need an advocate in Christ Jesus).
7. Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.
8. Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.
9. He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.
God has always commanded his children to love each other. This is an old commandment…
“And Jesus answered him,
The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel;
The Lord our God is one Lord:
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,
and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength:
this is the first commandment.
And the second is like, namely this,
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
There is none other commandment greater than these.”
And it is also a new commandment:
“ A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another;
as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”
10. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
11. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.
To love our brother is to love him as ourselves. It is to consider his welfare (spiritual and otherwise) to be just as important as our own. If we love our brother as Christ loved us, we will live our life in a manner that will not cause our brother to stumble, neither will we stumble because we will be walking in the light of God’s love.